Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nadine, Chapter eleven

Once back in Auckland, Nadine went to look for her girlfriends in their favourite haunts. She was glad to be back in civilization again.

“Hi girls, I am back!”

Her girl friends felt sheepish that they had been so mean and treated her badly.

Starved from their friendship, in a nonchalant manner, Nadine said, “All is forgiven and forgotten.”

“What was it like?” her friends asked.

“I had the most wonderful overseas holiday. I went to Singapore and to Delhi to visit the Taj Mahal.” Nadine said gaily, lying through her teeth. She did not want her friends to know she had had a stinking time in the village and she had never set foot in the two places she claimed she went.

“How were the boys?”

“They were so cool! I had so many boys that you will be green with envy.”

Nadine had not learnt her lesson or repented her ways. Instead she was determined to punish Chandra for sending her to her Armageddon. She was back with a vengeance. She wanted to make Chandra wish that she had never been born. Somehow, in her little brain, she was fixated that it was all Chandra’s idea and fault that Nadine was packed off to India. Patel only carried out Chandra’s instruction. Night upon night, she did not come home. If she did, she came home very late and she wanted to make Chandra’s life to be like shit.

“It’s payback time,” she said to Chandra.

Chandra and Patel made their second mistake.

“Maybe if she had a husband, she would grow up.”

They asked his Bal to arrange for a boy to come from India to be her husband. They would pay for his air ticket and give him a good dowry. In the village, Nadine had left a reputation of being a wild girl and slept with any boy who wanted to sleep with her. No village boy would want such a girl to be his wife.

But mysteriously, Gopal did. When he came, he assured Patel and Chandra that he would love and cherish Nadine. There was a fine wedding, and Patel invited his Indian friends from Pukekohe. Even Chandra appeared happy, she loved the beautiful sari that Patel brought back for her and now she had a chance to wear it. She was hoping that was the last she would see of Nadine.

Nadine was asked to wear a very expensive red wedding sari with gold thread trimmings. Nadine had never worn a sari in her life.

“I have never worn a sari and I am not about to wear one now,” she swore.

Manchala persuaded her to put it on and that she would make Patel a very happy father even if she did not care for Gopal. Manchala’s skilful hands wrapped the blazing gold red sari around Nadine. Then she fixed a big safety pin among the folds of the sari and clipped it to the petticoat near her navel.

“See, in this way your sari would not drop off.” said Manchala.

On Nadine’s left shoulder, Manchala pinned a gold brooch studded with rubies so the pallu would stay in place.

“The pallu is the open end of the sari, during the wedding, you will use it to drape it modestly over your head,” said Manchala.

Nadine’s girlfriends came to join in the fun to make Nadine the most beautiful Indian bride in Auckland. They painted red and white bindi, little dots all round her eyes following the instruction from Manchala. They dyed modern henna designs on her hands, feet and legs and they had a good laugh. Nadine was their Nouveau Indian bride, after all, she was a true born Kiwi. Patel gave Nadine were a big box of jewellery. The girls gawked at the beauty they had created. Nadine had a nose ring attached to a chain that went to her ears. It was such a beautiful picture that even Nadine was getting to like being a bride.

Manchala gave her a good prep talk. “Nadine, I wish it was your mother who is doing the talking. As an auntie who had known you since you were a baby, you are like a daughter to me. As of this day, you are Gopal’s wife. Listen to him like all Indian wives listen to their husbands.”

Nadine rolled her eyes and struck out her middle finger behind her back to her friends.

Kim came and gave her a pair of yellow Chinese gold bangles, “Nadine, my mother gave this to me, since I got no daughter of my own or daughters-in-law to give to, now as your Chinese mother, I give this to you.” They hugged for a long time and Kim’s eyes were misty.

Deep in Manchala and Kim’s heavy hearts, they questioned if this was right for Nadine. Both older ladies were arranged to be married to their husbands. They came all the way from India and China. They did not know their husbands before but they grew to love Prem and Ah Fook. They had a nagging feeling that this was not going to work for Nadine.

During the ceremony the priest put a sacred rope around Gopal’s and Nadine’s necks. They were now married!

The priest then instructed, “Gopal, you walk first, then Nadine, Gopal you lead Nadine, and Nadine, you follow Gopal. This is very important for Nadine to be subservient to Gopal.”

Nadine was appalled, she had not settled for this. She couldn’t back out and make a scene, not in front of all Dad’s friends. She was like a trapped animal. Gopal kept tugging the rope, she had no choice but to follow him. This old fashion Hindu custom was like a noose to her neck. Patel heaved a sigh of relief. His willful daughter was at last married, and he did not have to worry about her anymore.

No comments: